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The Right Way To Apply Sunscreen

As far as we’re concerned, sunscreen is one of the most important products for your skin. The protection it provides can help keep your skin safe from the damaging effects of the sun’s harmful UV rays which can cause serious skin cancers like melanoma, but also help prevent the signs of premature skin aging. It’s the reason why we are so passionate about recommending it to all of our customers.

For those that need a refresher as to just how damaging the sun can be, here are the basics. The sun emits ultraviolet radiation (a.k.a. UV), and there are two main types, UVA and UVB. Think of UVA as the “aging” rays and UVB as the “burning” rays. UVA are longer wavelengths that penetrate deeper to cause genetic damage, which leads to visible wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. The shorter wavelength UVB rays contribute to damage to the outermost layers of the skin, causing redness and burns. The most effective way to protect your skin from these damaging rays is to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen and take other sun protection measures.

Now that you know that sunscreen should be a non-negotiable in your skincare routine, you need to know how to apply it. While it might seem like you can simply rub it on and be done, it’s a little more nuanced than that. You need to be sure you are applying the right amount, at the right time, and at the right frequency.

If you’re not quite sure what those are, we’ve put together a quick primer on how to make sure you are applying your daily SPF properly. Keep reading to test your sun smarts.

Look For Broad-Spectrum On The Label

As we talked about before, there are two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB. In the past, many sunscreens only contained UVB protection. As scientists discovered more about how UVA affects the skin, it became apparent that formulas needed to protect from those, too. When you see the term “broad spectrum” on an SPF product, that means it protects from both types of UV damage. All of Kiehl’s SPF products provide broad-spectrum protection. Also, don’t forget to use an SPF 20 or higher for the most effective protection

Apply Sunscreen Every Day

While it might be tempting to skip the sunscreen, you’re putting your skin in danger if you do. Why? The sun’s rays are able to penetrate through clouds and they aren’t only a danger when the sun’s visible. In fact, you can be more at risk for burns in the winter when the sun reflects off of the snow. Think that just because you plan on being inside that you’re safe? Windows, even tinted ones, don’t completely block out the sun’s rays, meaning when you’re driving in your car or sitting next to a window in your office, you are being exposed to UV rays. If you don’t feel like putting on a separate SPF product when you plan to be inside all day, an easy solution is to use a moisturizer with SPF, like our Super Multi-Corrective Cream with SPF 30 — you get all the benefits of a moisturizer, plus lightweight, non-greasy sun protection.

Use The Right Amount

One of the biggest issues with sunscreen that many people have is that they don’t apply enough of it. The FDA requires sunscreen to be tested for efficacy at two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin. Since no one expects you to do that math on your own, the general rule is that you should be applying two full tablespoons (or a shot glass full) of sunscreen on your body and a nickel-sized dollop on your face. When you don’t apply enough sunscreen, you may not be covering all of your exposed skin, meaning you’ll be leaving some areas vulnerable. In this case, more is always better. That’s why we make our Kiehl’s formulas so lightweight and easy to apply — when you apply the appropriate amount of our Super Fluid Daily UV Defense SPF 50+, it won’t feel heavy on your skin.

Use An Spf That's Right For Your Skin Type

There are two main types of SPF: chemical and mineral. Most people are fine with chemical sun filters like Avobenzone and Oxybenzone, but they can be irritating to those with sensitive and acne-prone skin. Rather than skip the SPF altogether, people who may have sensitivity with chemical versions should consider trying mineral sunscreens like our Super Fluid UV Mineral Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50+. It’s formulated with Titanium Dioxide and Vitamin E to provide lightweight, gentle protection and antioxidant benefits to those with sensitive or problem skin.

Reapply Often

Sunscreen is not a one and done kind of product — in order to get the most out of its protective benefits, you need to reapply. Whether you are at the beach, exercising outside, or just running errands, you are bound to sweat or wipe off some of the product. Since sunscreen needs to actually be covering the skin to do its job, reapplying every two hours helps you cover any sunscreen that may have been removed. We made our Activated Sun Protector Water-Light Lotion For Face & Body with an incredibly easy to reapply fluid texture and water-resistant for 80 minutes. However, if you’ve been sweating profusely, in the water, or wiped off with a towel, you should reapply immediately afterward.

When you follow sun safety guidelines, you help keep your skin protected from the sun and its damaging effects.

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